Lippman (Hush Hush, 2015, etc.) takes familiar themes to a new locale as she traces a family’s journey from raucous Baltimore to the meticulously planned community of Columbia, Maryland.
Growing up in green, slightly hippie suburbia has its pluses and minuses for Luisa Brant. She lives in an old stone tavern her father, Andrew Jackson Brant, state’s attorney for Howard County, had moved onto a lush double lot for his wife. Adele Brant lived in her dream house for less than a year before she died a week after Luisa’s birth. Although she’s never quite accepted by her peers, motherless Lu does get to tag along with her brother, AJ, and his multicultural band of friends from Wilde Lake High. AJ leads a charmed life of academic ability, athletic triumph, and artistic talent, and some of these blessings seem to rub off on Luisa. What’s hers alone is her raw ambition. Her drive powers her through life’s challenges: the death of her young husband, Gabe, the difficulty of raising her twins without him, and her complicated relationship with her father, which grows even thornier after she moves back into her childhood home. It also brings her to what for many would be the pinnacle of her career when she beats her old boss Frederick C. Hollister III and takes her father's old position, becoming the first woman elected state’s attorney for Howard County. Her new job pits her almost immediately against Fred in a case that looks like a sure winner. Homeless Rudy Drysdale is accused of breaking into Mary McNally’s apartment and killing her. There’s forensic evidence, there’s an eyewitness, but for Lippman, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Before long, Lu the fierce looks like she may have caught a tiger by the tail.
Although she overamps some reveals and shortchanges others, Lippman as always treads the fine line between certainty and amazement.